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Review: Steam Park board game

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One my goals for the year was to turn off the television. But it would be all too easy to keep sitting on the couch in front of our laptops, just replacing one screen with another. We’ve got dominoes and Scrabble, but we haven’t begun building our game collection (which will come in even handier when Evan’s older and can play along with us). Iello Games sent me a copy of Steam Park, an incredible new board game, to review, and the timing was perfect for meeting my goal’s challenge.

Steam Park

In Steam Park, each of the 2-4 players is tasked with creating a coal-powered amusement park. Your park will consist of beautifully illustrated three-dimensional rides and attractions, and building your park is only the beginning. Players also have to manage park employees, clean up after park visitors, and invest in advertising to keep those messy visitors coming,

The game has two difficulty levels – one for beginners who want a more straightforward experience, and one for advanced gamers whose play is a mix of skill and strategy. To learn more about the specifics of the gameplay, check out this thorough review of the game from Tom Vasel from The Dice Tower:

One fun aspect of this game is the speed-rolling of the dice at the beginning of each turn; there’s advantages to settling on the dice you want early and being able since you can get a better spot in the turn order the more quickly you roll. Some frantic action can result, unlike other games where everyone goes in turn and what you roll matter more than how quickly you roll it.

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The game maxes out at six turns for each player, so strategy also plays a big role. At the end of the game, the player with the most Denari (the Steam Park unit of money) wins the game. Do you want to earn your money by attracting visitors with the cleanliness and security of your park or by having lots of rides (or plenty of bathrooms)?

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There was a significant amount of assembly required to get the game ready to play – all the pieces are cardboard (with the exception of park visitors, which are little colored wooden figures) than need to punched from die-cut cards and, in the case of the rides and stands, constructed via notches on each piece. But the assembly goes quickly and the game box is big enough that you can leave everything assembled for packing and storage, so the assembly time is a one-time thing.

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The rules of the game are easy to grasp quickly, and a typical game with four players takes about an hour (so two players can go really quickly). First, all players roll their six dice and race to get their turn order, choosing which dice to keep or re-roll based on the symbols on the face of each die. Next is the “dirt phase.” Based on the combination of what was rolled, what’s on your turn order card, the visitors to your park, and so on, each player adds dirt to or removes dirt from their dirt pile. So here’s the part where it pays to keep your park clean.

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The “Action Phase” is where the magic happens – there’s lots of different options for what you do on each turn based on how you rolled. You can build rides and stands (bathrooms, security, casinos, etc.), clean your park, attract visitors, collect money based on your bonus cards, or choose to expand your park (you start with a large tract of land and can add smaller blocks to it to build rides and stands on). After all the action is complete, the round enters the “Income Phase” and each player collects Denari for the visitors to their park.

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Steam Park is a fun game that’s not too easy but not too hard. It can take a while to set up since there’s lots of pieces to be sorted into piles – Denari, dirt, visitors, rides, stands… the list goes on. For that reason, I’d recommend playing it more than once to make it “worth it” if you’re like us and playing as a twosome (or if your gameplay moves pretty quickly once you have the rules down). But it’s also a great game to play with older kids since the winner can be determined by luck and dexterity as much as strategy. Steam Park is an excellent addition to our fledgling game collection.

To keep up with Steam Park and Iello’s other games, be sure to visit their website, or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

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